9-11 reflections take stage in N.Y.

Actors explore tragedy's legacy

— With Broadway mostly dark this Sept. 11 in remembrance of the more than 3,000 people who were killed in last year's terrorist attacks, other New York stages will fill the void with performances exploring the emotional resonance of that day.

The centerpiece is "Brave New World," a three-day event beginning Sept. 9 that features more than 50 new plays, songs and multimedia pieces, many by well-known actors, directors, composers and playwrights.

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AP Photo

Len Cariou, second from left, Josh Radnor, second right, and Bebe Neuwirth, right, read a scene from "Adopt a Sailor," a new play by Charles Evered, at New York's Sardi's Restaurant. The play is part of "Brave New World," a program of plays, songs and multimedia pieces to be performed in September at Town Hall by the New York theater community in response to the attacks on the World Trade Center.

London native J. Dakota Powell, who organized the event, was visiting a friend in New York last Sept. 11 and lived through the attacks. When she returned to England about six weeks later, "a play just popped out of me."

"I thought other writers probably have the same need to find a way to respond on an artistic level," she said.

Powell began asking friends and fellow artists if they would contribute to a group of shows. The response was overwhelming, she said, and the event quickly grew through word-of-mouth.

Powell's play, "Exodus," will be performed during the show at the Town Hall theater. Among dozens of others contributing are Cynthia Nixon, John Patrick Shanley, Terrence McNally, Billy Crudup, Edie Falco, Eve Ensler, John Guare, Stanley Tucci and Sigourney Weaver.

Because many of the works haven't been performed publicly, theatergoers won't know what to expect. But a glance at some of the titles gives a hint: "Impact," "I'll Be Here Tomorrow," "The New Rules," "Will the Sun Ever Shine Again," "Cabin Pressure," "We Never Knew Their Names," "Terror Eyes," "After," "Adopt a Sailor" and "There Will Be a Miracle."

"We wanted writers to go explore the effects of 9-11 not only on our lives, but on the fact we're no longer isolated from the rest of the world," Powell said.

"This project isn't about mourning, it's about rebirth. It's about crying and laughing and the feelings that have been trapped, probably inside all of us. And it's got all kinds of colors and dimensions � the artists have tapped into a wide spectrum of emotions."

In conjunction with "Brave New World" is "The 24-Hour Plays," to be performed on Sept. 11 at the Minetta Lane Theatre. An elaborate and disciplined form of improvisational theater, the event will bring together a handful of writers, directors and actors, and give them 24 hours to stage a brand new play.

Kurt Gardner, one of the producers, says the chosen artists will be able to create whatever they please. A similar event held last year yielded two remarkably polished and poignant plays dealing with the attacks, he said. One of the works, Warren Leight's "Nine-Ten" � about humdrum worries a day before the attacks � is being produced as part of the "Brave New World" festival.

Another Sept. 11 performance is by AntiGravity, a dance and aerial acrobatic group. The group's wordless performance, to be staged at a midtown nightclub, was created in the weeks after the attacks to explore "the enduring spirit of New York City that beckons us to cherish liberty," according to organizers.

Proceeds from all the events will go to benefit various charities.

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